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Mandy J Watson

A member registered Jun 08, 2019 · View creator page →

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Ah, that explains it with the lack of game revenue then, although I don't think there's a problem with allowing donations because even with jam games someone might appreciate them enough to want to offer a small token of support.

There is a South African dev collective that used to release all its games for free and it made a small amount with donations (I'm probably not at liberty to say how much). They then decided to charge for all the games, which also coincided with some bigger project releases, and I've been meaning to ask how that changed payment behaviour and if it helped but the pandemic got in the way so I have yet to ask the question.

Thanks for your kind words about Heist At The Museum. I'm particularly proud of that one, not just because it was my first Bitsy game, but because even with the jam rush it still worked out quite well, miraculously. I only watched the John Oliver segment about museums a few weeks ago and was amazed at how close it was to what I put in the game. Clearly I have assimilated the nuances of the issue quite well over the years, probably because I'm from a country whose objects (and people) have been stolen by multiple countries.

Thanks for this. I really appreciate it when devs post this kind of data because it's incredibly useful to understand what goes on on itch. (Sadly my stats are nothing worth talking about - I'm inching towards 5000 lifetime project views.) It's interesting that the fonts generated so much income, comparatively, especially since they are free, yet the games, unfortunately, usually earn very little (which tracks with what I know from other developers). I wonder how much being a "jam game" factors into this.

I wish you much success in 2024. The font project was really interesting to watch (although you were so quick I still haven't downloaded all of them), and the fonts are really great quality, but I'm looking forward to that longer game!

I see the results were posted. Congratulations to all the winners and well done to the Terrafrontier team in particular for creating such a polished and addictive game so quickly. Thanks to the judges and to Free Lives for sponsoring the jam again.

I really enjoyed playing all the games I could and I'm sorry about the ones I wasn't able to get working because of technical issues on my computer.

I'm glad to hear it brought you a moment of joy!

I forgot to leave a comment to say that I did try to play the game but got a "missing components" error, unfortunately (Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime and DirectX Runtime), and I didn't want to mess with my system and try and install them.

I played the post jam version first (screenshots below) and then had a look at the jam version. I'm impressed with the sheer number of quality of life improvements you were able to add so quickly. They make such a difference to the experience.

Having said that, I guess I'm one of the few people who really hated the juice wobble (I dislike too much juciness in games in general), from the beginning but especially as my apartment got more complex because it would knock other pieces of furniture out of their placements. As it is, even with the vast improvement over the jam version, I still found the controls a bit janky and it was an effort placing everything so then to have things (often multiple things) knocked around really frustrated me.

I liked the decorating music but I found the loop to be too short and after a while (I probably played the post-jam version for about an hour) it got stuck in my head. Now every time I hear even just a little bit of it it starts on repeat in my head. Sometimes it just randomly pops into my head too.

The gunshot sound was really aggressive - especially coming off the Zen of decorating - and triggering (if you have PTSD - loud sounds out of nowhere can trigger a PTSD physiological reaction). I'd recommend reducing the volume, if nothing else.

I agree with others that much more could be done with the assassination mini game and there have been some good ideas so I don't have anything to add. I was much more interested in the decorating side, probably because it represented the bulk of the game, so I didn't actually give the assassination side much thought beyond being amused at the random names being paired with the random models and not liking the loud gunshot sound.

I really like the idea of different floor plans. I'd like to request some rugs and bookshelves too, please, if they're somewhere in your furniture pack.

Unfortunately that's how Bitsy's controls work - I have no way to override it, it's baked into the game engine. It does frustrate me too but when one plays enough Bitsy games one learns and anticipates and compensates (most of the time). I do wish the developer would change this, though, in the engine.

I am happy to hear you found it meditative. It is a story of a strange change in life that leads to acceptance - and embracement - of a new life.

Yeah, I'm very familiar with time limit versus skills! Those are cool ideas. I'm sorry you didn't get to implement them.

There seems to be quite an audience for visual novels on itch so that would be something worth experimenting with. Good luck!

I called it a game poem because it is a poem (possibly more poem than game) - the yellow text has a very specific metre (9-6), it just doesn't rhyme, but it is also sort of poetic as a game too.

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. Thank you. It's always great to know that people have had a good experience when you make a game.

Yeah... can you tell where I was rushing in the last few minutes of the jam? LOL. I do admit to being bothered by the problems with the cave exits but I was literally in about the last hour (you'll note I submitted with 16 seconds to spare) and I didn't have time to code the checks, such as the ones that are there on the water and when you arrive on the island, to make sure you do everything important before you move on.

Same with the lack of guiding art elements that you mention - I hadn't figured it out (it was something I didn't think about until I was putting the scene together and then realised it was a problem I hadn't anticipated and didn't have a quick solution for) and then had to abandon doing that in order to finish up in time.

Thanks for noticing the sky reflection! I spent way too much time on that in combination with the palette stuff that I mentioned in another comment but I'm happy with it.

I'm really glad you enjoyed the game. Thank you for your kind feedback.

"Ha!" I thought. "This is so easy!" I just watched the stats and placed tiles accordingly while being careful to block off the opponent so it wouldn't have too much space. Then a year before the colonists were due to arrive a capital city sprung up out of nowhere and messed up my stats so I had to bomb it on the last round and then I won. I laughed.

Then I played a few more games and the objectives were a little bit more difficult to reach and the AI was a bit more aggressive and so I lost (and understood why people were saying it can be difficult). I also had a game where the best approach was just making craters for about the last 20 moves until I won with a crater filled industrial wasteland "paradise" with just a little bit of greenery and water near my lander.

I really liked this. It is so polished. Well done! The art looks great and I loved the interface. I also really enjoyed discovering the combos, as well as the variety in the replay because the objectives change. This was just a great experience all round.

One small thing: I had to crank the audio on my computer almost to max to hear the music (I didn't realise there was any until I saw people mentioning it in the comments). It also turns out I didn't actually hear the nuances of the audio either. So, really good music and audio design too.

Once again, great job! Congrats.

I played the downloadable version and about half my "successful" shots didn't register. I played a bunch of games and tried different distances and such but there didn't seem to be a common denominator.

This is a fun little mechanic and game idea that could definitely benefit from more rooms and more types of trash but even as it is, although small, it's a satisfying self-contained experience. (Also, why do the bottles keep dropping down from the ceiling? What exactly was going on at the Christmas Eve party?!?) I really liked it.

However I am disappointed that some of the 2D art was AI generated (due to the ethical reasons of how the datasets came to be). I do like the overall design, though, of the room and the 3D art style you opted for with assets.

My biggest complaint is that the art and the text (bar the opening screen) is so tiny! Otherwise I had fun, although those fire casters are definitely overpowered and it's particularly frustrating when they run (or spawn) off screen. I also don't feel that that this game has a strong adherence to the theme.

I think Jaco van Hemert made some great points, so I don't have much more to add, although it would appear I enjoyed the game a lot more than he did. It was very satisfying smashing all the blue guys and I got/prioritised movement upgrades in my best game so that made it quite fun.

I think the writing was very good - you did a really great job in that area. I chuckled. It also contributed some subtle world building, which was great.

Unfortunately I couldn't play this, although unlike everyone else I think it was my drivers, which I can't update. (I have to use a command-line hack now to play Godot games made in the latest version of the engine because of similar problems.)

Uncaught exception thrown in Thread[jME3 Main,5,main]

RendererException: compile error in: ShaderSource[name=ShaderBlow/Shaders/LightBlow/LightBlow.frag, defines, type=Fragment, language=GLSL100]

Fragment shader failed to compile with the following errors:

ERROR: error(#272) Implicit version number 110 not supported by GL3 forward compatible context

ERROR: error(#273) 1 compilation errors.  No code generated

Also, just a jam note - if you have a game-breaking problem (or any problem) and have to update a game after the submission period has closed you have to keep the original version of the game available, with the update as an alternate download.

Sorry I couldn't play it - the screenshots look great so I was intrigued. As far as I know I've also never played a game before that's been developed in the engine you used so I was curious about it.

I like the concept and how quick it is to play a turn but the game needs some serious rebalancing (to be fair - I forgot about the reroll option and never used it so it might have made a difference to my games). In my first game I had almost no supply/supply building options, a little bit of terraforming and enough defence, and just couches, couches, couches, and books so eventually I got ending 1. In my second game I finally saw a bunch of buildings I didn't know existed so I built a nice colony (ending 3) even though in that game I was hit by quakes and such turn after turn, which felt a little unfair except for the fact that the RNG had swung so opposite to the previous game that I was just being gifted with supply and terraforming options (an incredible variety) that compensated for the ongoing bad-luck events. In my third game it was once again similar to the first game, with a little bit of variety in the beginning and then onwards just some defence, the occasional terraforming, and couches, couches, couches everywhere until I hit ending 1 again.

I liked the music, I liked the art, and I think it's a good concept (and perfect for the theme) - it just needs an algorithm to keep an eye on what's being rolled and what's in the pile to prioritise certain resources over others when the RNG goes too awry.

This game was a little laggy for me (which is possibly my old computer) so I struggled to set up traps and defences, and especially had no time to do anything decent before the zombies were upon me on all sides. I would have liked a little bit more starting grace, such as what you get in some tower-defence games, where it's paused or the timer is very slowed to give you a chance to set up your defences.  I also found that sometimes I would click on a resource and it wouldn't activate so I'd end up placing the wrong item in the wrong spot and not realising at first because after my first game it seemed to me that it would be easier to play zoomed out but then I couldn't really see much of what I was doing. Other times I "placed" things but they didn't show up (yet the resource-remaining number went down).

I would have liked it if the game sort of ramps up so instead of 200 zombies coming at you at once from every possible direction it's a few at a time so you can learn (and breathe), with the difficulty increasing over time. I really love the variety of offensive and defensive weapons but I found I was just clicking on whatever was visible to use because the UI was too slow as the zombies got closer and closer and I realised I had, for example, gaps, or I'd placed something awkwardly and they were just walking around it. (Pathfinding was therefore really good! Those zombies are too smart!)

I had to play a few times to figure out some aspects that aren't apparent and which therefore left me frustrated. For example I would die and I didn't know why and then I figured out that it was due to the overnight cost, which isn't listed until after you have moved, whereas I was planning based on the movement cost. I still don't know what the animal icons on the bottom left mean. I also experienced a few times where the resource cost out of nowhere was massive and out of proportion for what I could have gained by that point or could gain quickly in the next couple of moves without losing a life. (This even happened once on a first turn where I immediately needed 6 wood to move and additionally therefore couldn't see when Baba Yaga would be getting close.)

I like the idea that different terrain tiles affect resource gathering and expenditure and that Baba Yaga creeping up on you adds to the stress and decision as to whether or not you should move on or take a hit because of the resource gain on the tile.

This game feels more like a mechanic, though, than a game. (Although the basis for a good one.) It would have been great to have diverging paths on some tiles so you could pick based on what resources you'd prefer.

I really love the art (and font choice). The house, in particular, looks incredible and the movement of everything is so smooth.

It was only at the end of my first playthrough that I remembered that you can rotate things, although I guess it's not really necessary. I didn't use it much in subsequent playthroughs because there just isn't enough time.

I really struggled with the application process, as others have noted. It took me a few times to figure out what to do and then even longer to do it perfectly so I could see a "win" ending. I think the reason is that for the first half of the game you are dragging and now suddenly you have to click and then click again and the instructions don't explain that.

I really like your music choices - I think they suit the game perfectly. Similarly I think your art is great for the tone of the game and I love the little touches, such as how the eyes follow you around.

This was so stressful but I think it's a really great interpretation of the theme (not to mention eye-opening about the experience of trying to rent in Cape Town!). Well done!

You've got something interesting here and there's a lot of potential, although right now the end state is always a fail so to me it's very loosely connected to the jam theme. Since you can't "win" this game and make a functioning home I would suggest rather a series of challenges for various mini communities that want to prioritise specific resources, with some sort of limit imposed such as a max number of moves or tiles filled. Right now I'm not really building a home (as per the jam theme), I'm just looking at minus stats and trying to figure out what card will fix it and I don't care what it is. (In the first game I played I tried to "build" a community visually that looked nice and kept certain types of tiles away from others but after that game I realised it was pointless. Here, too, others' suggestion of tiles next to each other giving special boosts (and/or perhaps the opposite) is a really good idea. (I think you said somewhere that you had it in your list, as well as random events - also a cool idea by the way.) As a player you don't really have a lot of agency in this game and are really at the mercy of the RNG.)

Pure random number generation never works properly (I know this from one of my own games, as well as Fallen London, where it's an ongoing joke among both the developers and the community) and certain probabilities tend to get "stuck". In all the games I played certain cards would end up repeating frequently (different ones every game), while others I would rarely or never see, so I would suggest some more advanced programming where you evaluate what's going on and nudge things a little here and there to compensate. Possibly as a result of this I would also find that one stat would be stratospheric while I had no way to fix one - sometimes two - other stat(s) that was tanking, tanking, tanking but I had no options to do anything about it. I played around six times and it was the same pattern every time, culminating in me failing after between ~19 and ~22 moves.

I love the 2D art and the music. I'm ambivalent about the 3D art, though not specifically the art itself but rather that it stylistically doesn't mesh with the 2D art.

Overall, though, as I said, you've got something here and I think you should work on it further once the jam results have been announced. Iterate, get community feedback on itch, repeat, and see if there's ongoing interest (if not, move on). There's a game called Backpack Hero that did that after appearing in the 2022 Finally Finish Something jam and now it's a full game that released on Steam etc etc etc. (Don't get your expectations too high because Steam success is very difficult to achieve but if you can build a game that really has depth and long playthroughs that's the Steam audience.) (I'd also recommend looking at a game called The Final Earth 2 for ideas of how buildings next to each other influence each other.)

Other advanced mechanic ideas:

• As mentioned by @Ed_Sforzati, a way to augment placed cards but I'd also suggest a way to remove buildings (at a cost, of course), which would also require the ability for you to see how a building is influencing the stats.

• Perhaps a way to reduce the new-round cost increase on a specific stat? (Using a specific card or an augmentation or if you group three hexes that are the same together or whatever.) You might not need this if you change the game to having specific goals, rather than being "endless" play.

Finally, some usability notes:

• I would prefer if the values are on the cards rather than on the side so I can see all three options at the same time instead of constantly having to roll back and forth over them to try and figure out what to do.

• I was playing at 1920x1080 and the font size for the explanatory/flavour text is way too small. Similarly the font that you use for the title as well as in a few other places looks really good when it's large but it can be hard to read when it isn't (in particular, the "2" looks like an "8").

• The info box top left has the icons in a different order to how they appear on the cards.

This was amazing to watch - thank you! It is so validating to see people have the exact experience with the game that I was hoping they would (even with half of it missing!), especially since I'm working in a vacuum and just have to hold thumbs.

(By the way, I agree that having the same controls to advance dialogue and move/interact is a terrible design choice but unfortunately it's baked into Bitsy. Also "nonahexagonic mandiometer" is a joke - I haven't studied poetry since whatever we learnt in high school (which I've long forgotten) - all the yellow text is in the format of: first line 9 syllables (nona), second line 6 syllables (hexa), which I just made up (mandiometer). Another ambitious idea that used up dev time but I have no regrets!)

This was my second Bitsy game - my first, Heist At The Museum, was for a jam in October if you want to have a look as I had a bit more time to work on that one (though also still not enough) - so I don't know if I want to go back after the jam concludes to expand We, The Guardians Three with what's missing or just move on but it does seem that people want to see more of it.

Thanks again to both of you for playing and making the video.

Thanks for your comments, although it's not meant as a retelling of Cast Away, I just used a volleyball and Wilson as a pop-culture reference/joke that those who had seen the movie would get. I guess I could have used "Spalding" or "Dunlop" instead but Wilson has the best ring to it. The point here is that the castaway accepts the fate of arriving on the island (we also (intentionally) don't know the back story of how the person ended up adrift) and over time makes the island home and becomes one of its guardians. (I also intended to use the volleyball net as a decorative/decor resource that the castaway incorporates over time in the cave.)

It always remains a disappointment to me when I can't add music, believe me!

This is an interesting base for something - the level design was pretty good - I just don't see how it relates to the theme.

I really disliked having to jump with space since I was shooting with X but I unexpectedly got used to it and then found the character control to be really smooth (except for the fact that you run at the same speed as the bullets).

I don't have any complaints about the audio - I thought it suited the style of game perfectly.

There's not much else I can say that hasn't already been covered by others. I think you could make a good platformer with this if you wanted to.

You can create music in the recent versions of Bitsy but it's extremely buggy so for my previous game, which i mentioned in another comment, I initially tried and then gave up after I saw how the problems disrupted the gameplay. In older versions of Bitsy (or alternatively) you can add it with a hack that I believe works quite well but I just didn't remotely have the time to compose something. I would love to - I always want to add music to my games - but when it's a jam situation and I'm working solo it just ends up being impossible, sadly.

Thanks for saying such kind words about the game. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I really appreciate that you noticed the details and I'm glad to hear that my jokes are landing with at least some players!

Bitsy really is a wonderful tool (much like Twine). It allows people with no programming knowledge and no art skill to make a game, yet it's also powerful enough for people to hack away and do increasingly complicated things with art and code. (I'm getting there. This is my second Bitsy game - I made my first one (Heist At The Museum) last month for another jam but I had more time to work on that one (about a week(?) at a more leisurely pace).) I really recommend deep diving into peoples' games (and just playing around with the tool) because the ones I mentioned really are only a few of so many good games. Plus, the more you play, the more you see the clever things people have figured out to do that aren't the default and it really sparks one's imagination.

An example is the palette changes as you row to shore. It took way longer for me to do that than I was expecting (lesson learnt!) as I really struggled to find the right colour combinations for so many steps (also, it killed my brain adding so many of what the tool calls "exits" and "entrances"). I would usually also check the palettes and do my best to adjust for high contrast and/or colour blindness combos (it's not always possible to make adjustments but I try - especially with colour blindness) and I just didn't have time to do so, which is a personal disappointment.

Anyway, play a bunch of Bitsy games!

I appreciate your comments. Thank you. I'm very proud of my beach scene (the interior of the cave is, unfortunately, a little dubious!).

Oh, wow. I'm glad to have introduced you to something new! There are lots of games like this out there, though - a good place to start are the Bitsy and made with Bitsy tags. Some of my personal favourites (from a long list) include Five Great Places To Get A Nice Cup Of Tea When You Are Asleep, the Adamant Gambit series (which uses Bitsy and other, related engines), Roomba Quest, and On Tuesday, Trevor Found His Shovel.

Thank you for playing!

Me too! Haha! I needed an extra jam day.

I mentioned some of what I wanted to do in a previous comment but the other half of the island (which exists only in my head, unfortunately) has many more plants - banana trees, ginger, berry bushes, many more sticks, ... essentially lots more to forage and collect that would be useful long term. I wanted to use palm fronds for all sorts of decorative reasons, as well as for a cape or cloak for Coco (even with that simple idea I didn't have enough time to visualise the art beyond the stick/pole). The two mystery boxes I hadn't (still haven't) solved. They were placeholders for items I might realise I needed (and/or items that would make for good jokes) as I was writing narrative stuff for the missing middle section, where you slowly set up your home and become more comfortable on the island.

Thanks! I really wanted it to be about how the character uses the found objects that are available to turn the place into a home.

Thank you. The game was developed in the Bitsy game engine, which is a tiny game engine whose style is specifically low-res pixel art so that anyone can use it to make a game, even if they don't have art skills, and therefore specifically make a game that focusses on narrative.

(However, yes, I am also very much a fan of point-and-click adventure games.)

Thank you for playing and I'm glad to hear you got the right vibe from the game. One of the things I didn't have time to do was to show, with better art and lots of player discovery through dialogue, how the castaway uses the supplies, plus found objects, to turn the cave into a home over time with decorations and objects and art and such.

Thank you, also, for having a look at some of my other work. The Mischievous Thievery Of Jessica The Cat is my flagship game and I'm very proud of it (and some of the technical work I did in Twine to create it). What you see there is complete but I am working on adding more stories ("chapters") to the game because I love the world that I've built (a lot of it still in my head) and the characters.

This is incredible! You brought so much flavour to my little one-page game. Thank you.

I love the art, too. It's a beautiful nod to Fallen London.

This is so imaginative and the writing and world building are really great. I love how it's not just about trying to figure out which object is the extra cursed one and that your choices affect all sorts of other outcomes too, such as your dating life and how successful the exhibition is. Well done!

What a fun detective game! I really liked the design of the animal sprites, as well as the various art pieces in the museum.

(I kind of want to play Fairy Bingo Hall Simulator though.)

This is such an interesting way of not quite abandoning abandoned ideas. RIP.

I was feeling bad for the artist and then I read your devlog and now I feel really bad for all the artists this has happened to. (I didn't know this was a thing that happened!) A fun little Halloween interpretation of where the art might be going!

Greetings back! We have an indie (and semi-Global South) event every December in Cape Town called Playtopia so if you or anyone else in your community ever comes this way that would be a good time to pick.

Benevolent criminals.